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Two times the fragrance

Lavender fields. Gazette photo by Cathy Clark  

 

Fifteen years in the making, Sequim will see its Lavender Weekend go twofold on July 15-17.

 

The original Sequim Lavender Festival continues its tenured run on Fir Street and at various spots in and around Sequim while the new Sequim Lavender Farm Faire takes position at the same time, centered at Carrie Blake Park.

 

Both organizations are acknowledging one another but not partnering with their events.

 

Mary Jendrucko, executive director of the Sequim Lavender Growers Association, said she and others involved with the lavender festival are using social networking online, such as Facebook, to bring awareness and answer questions about the weekend.

“That’s been big this year,” she said. “We’re getting about 7,000 hits a month on our website.”

 

All of their literature has included QR codes, which allow people to use their cell phones and visit the website instantly, she said.

Scott Nagel, executive director of the Sequim Lavender Farmers Association, which runs the farm fair, said they’ve done some outreach through their website and included a frequently-asked-questions link. Fair organizers have prompted their volunteers to say there are two events going on at the same time but to clarify the differences.

 

“No. 1, we don’t want confused visitors,” Nagel said.

 

“We want them to know there are two festivals. They (lavender festival) don’t charge admission but we do. That’s why we say all of ours (Lavender Farm Tour) are seven festivals in one ‘faire.’ To reduce confusion, we’re working with downtown merchants to make sure groups know what’s going on.”

 

Jendrucko said the festival’s new angle is promoting niche lavender farming and how small farming can be successful. She said their farms always have been open during the festival but not really promoted through literature so people haven’t really known about them.

 

“We expect that even with six times as much exposure as before, they’ll be OK with parking,” she said. “(The farms) are getting excited about it. Everyone’s getting out there sprucing up.”

 

Farms on the Sequim Lavender Festival’s “U-Pick, U-Tour, U-Free Admission to Farms and Street Fair” are Blackberry Forest, The Lavender Connection, Lost Mountain Lavender, Martha Lane Lavender, Nelson’s Duck Pond, Oliver’s Lavender Farm and Peninsula Nurseries.

 

Participating farms on the paid admission Lavender Faire’s Farms on Tour are Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm, Olympic Lavender Farm, Port Williams Lavender, Purple Haze Lavender, Sunshine Herb & Lavender Farm and Washington Lavender.

 

Differences of opinion

 

Originally, farmers association members were a part of the growers association, but 11 farms left the organization on Jan. 8, including three founding members of the festival and five of nine board members. They left citing “philosophical and administrative differences.”

 

Nagel said the departure was based on the future and management of the growers association and not the festival, but potential decisions would have affected it later on.

 

Nagel said farmers left to start their farm fair from scratch.

 

The growers association retains the rights to the Sequim Lavender Festival and all trademarks of it, including “Lavender Capital of North America” and “Celebrate Lavender.”

 

Nagel said the farmers association now returns to its original purpose of growing, marketing, educating people about lavender and preserving agricultural lands in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

 

Jendrucko said the festival is running a “Charity through Commerce” campaign by working with local organizations such as the Lions Club and FFA and incorporating nonprofits into the street fair on Fir Street along with more than 150 vendors.

 

They are continuing to partner with the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club in auctioning off a lavender quilt for high school scholarships. On July 17, the festival hosts a 200-plus car show with profits benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.

 

The farm fair hosts a multitude of activities with its Lavender in the Park event running concurrently with the Lavender Farms Tour, including 150 vendors for crafts and food.

Busy time of year

Nagel said the farmers association chose the same weekend because there will be 30,000 people in town from all over the world.

In his recent visit to Australia, Nagel said, he learned Sequim is admired around the world for its lavender growing.

 

“The world just looks at Sequim lavender, not the organizations,” he said.

 

“There are tons of places where multiple events are going on the same weekend ... We’re promoting Lavender Weekend. Nobody cares about the dispute. It’s about promoting lavender.”

 

Both events have live music, demonstrations and speakers. For more information on the Sequim Lavender Festival, visit www.lavender festival.com and for more on the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire, visit www.sequimlavenderfarms.org.


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories leading up to Lavender Weekend, including the Sequim Lavender Festival and the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.
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